Arusha, May 11, 2011 (FH) -The family of Félicien Kabuga, the most wanted genocide fugitive, has mandated French lawyer, Emmanuel Altit, to represent them and the defendant in the forthcoming special deposition proceedings commencing May 23, 2011 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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On May 2, 2011, the lawyer sent an e-mail to the President of the Tribunal, stating his authorization to represent the family and the accused in the proceedings and he, therefore, requested to be formally appointed to undertake such assignment.

However, in his orders of May 4 and 6, 2011, Judge Vagn Joensen, who will conduct the proceedings, invited the Registrar, Prosecutor, Kabuga's appointed Duty Counsel Bahame Nyanduga and Altit himself to file submissions, addressing the issue whether the family's lawyer has locus standi in the case.

He pointed out that the procedure for the taking of special deposition pursuant to Rule 71 bis was not tantamount to a trial and, as the accused was not represented by counsel before the Tribunal, the registrar assigned a Duty Counsel to represent the interests of the accused.

"Furthermore, neither the Statute of the Tribunal nor the Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides for the family of an accused person to be represented by counsel before the Tribunal, to select the defence counsel for a fugitive accused or to be consulted with respect to such selection," the judge further said.

He added, "It is not clear whether a counsel selected by the family of a fugitive accused, even if engaged and remunerated by the family, would have locus standi in these proceedings."

Altit had represented before the Tribunal catholic priest Father Hormisdas Nsengimana, who was acquitted on March 23, 2010 of genocide and crimes against humanity.

This is not the first time Kabuga's family is knocking doors of the Tribunal. On January 26, 2001, the family requested the President of the Tribunal to overturn the decision by the Prosecutor who had refused to lift his move, allowing the French authority to seal their bank accounts and seize a number of related documents.

The president could not consider the request because the family had no locas standi. Having being dissatisfied by both decisions, the family appealed to the Appeals Chamber, seeking ordered to lift the provisional measures carried out by the French authorities basing on the prosecution's decision.

On November 22, 2002, the Appeals Chamber dismissed the appeal on grounds that the family had the right to request a judicial review by a Trial Chamber over the Prosecutor's decision, refusing to lift his motion over sealing of the bank accounts.

Apart from Kabuga, who is alleged the main financier of the 1994 Tutsi genocide, other fugitives whom the prosecution has requested for special deposition proceedings to safeguard evidence are Augustin Bizimana, former Minister of Defence and Major Protais Mpiranya, who was Commander of the Presidential Guard.

According to sources at ICTR, Kabuga is said to be carrying out his commercial activities in Kenya, while Mpiranya is allegedly being protected by senior officials in Zimbabwe, whereas Bizimana may be hiding in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


© Hirondelle News Agency